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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Night At The Theatre

The Road Theater in North Hollywood (NOHO) has become a favorite of mine over the past few years. I don’t always love their productions, but I admire the chances they take with the material, and the quality of the performances is always impressive.

This past weekend I went to see their latest production, the West Coast Premiere of LADY.Written by Craig Wright and beautifully directed by Scott Alan Smith LADY tells the story of three boyhood friends, now middle-aged, who come together for an annual hunting trip. Their childhood bonds are threatened as recollections of past memories, ideals, and morals are confronted.

Kenny (Matt Kirkwood), the least ambitious of the three, is a stoner who escapes his reality by living vicariously through movies. He loves his wife, who’s battling terminal cancer, and fears the inevitable.

Dyson (Shawn Michael Patrick) is in a loveless marriage and brags about his numerous infidelities. His only child, a son, has decided to enlist in the Marines, which Dyson vehemently opposes, and Dyson blames Graham (Mark Doerr) for inciting his son to enlist.

Graham is a Congressman representing the town where these three friends grew up together. He’s an elected Democrat whose political beliefs about the Iraqi war favor the Republican president.

What could have been contrived and predictable unfolds with multiple layers of character flaws and yearnings with plot twists to keep the audience fully engaged. Wright’s dialogue is right on the mark, both passionate and incisive. But what makes this production so wonderful are the performances, most notably Matt Kirkwood whose nuanced delivery builds to a final emotional release that goes straight to the heart.

LADY continues through June 14th. Tickets can be purchased through The Road Company’s website: roadtheatre.org.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Stinkyberry

Trends come and go, and usually I don’t get pulled into them, but last week I let my guard down and found myself at Pinkberry, home of the latest frozen yogurt craze. I’ve been seeing new Pinkberry locations all over Los Angeles and assumed there must be something to a frozen yogurt that has tongues wagging and the media raving.

Celebrities, such as party girl Paris Hilton, have caused traffic jams as they illegally park in order to get their Pinkberry fix, which has been referred to as “Crackberry.” On the Pinkberry website it says:

Pinkberry is swirly goodness
It’s frozen yogurt reinvented
to create an experience
that indulges the senses


So there I was at the counter contemplating what to get. The choices were Original or Green Tea. I chose Original. For toppings I chose kiwi, strawberries, and mango. It was quite the colorful presentation with the green, red, and yellow of the fruit against the white of the yogurt. My taste buds were watering as I anticipated that first spoonful.And then I tried it… and… it was tasteless, absolutely tasteless. What? How could this be? I thought there must be something wrong with my taste buds, but spoonful after spoonful proved that Pinkberry yogurt is tasteless, bland, an insult to frozen yogurt everywhere.

I told friends about my Pinkberry experience and surprisingly many felt the same, chiding me for falling prey to celebrity/media manipulation.

Pinkberry is frozen yogurt reinvented with no taste and it doesn’t indulge but disappoints the senses. It’s a trend that will run its course and hopefully melt into oblivion.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blow Up Art

New York City is one of the most exciting places in the world with an energy that is indescribable. It’s truly a Mecca of creativity where the possibilities of expression are endless.

So when in New York expect the unexpected…
Subway street grates are all over the city, and as the subway passes by below a gust of wind shoots up through these grates. It’s quite the little gust that gives the unexpecting passerby an unexpected jolt. Some would call it annoying while others call it a thrill.

Artist Joshua Allen Harris decided to turn these subway gusts into an art project. He has cleverly constructed animals from shopping bags and attached them to the grates. When the subway rolls by the flaccid animals inflate and come to life. How exciting!

Here’s a video of Harris’ giraffe creation along with a brief interview.


I love New York.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Honk If You Think This Is Insane

I was driving along the other morning and noticed a car ahead of me swerving from side to side and then slowing down and speeding up. My “this person must be drunk/stoned” red flag went up and I knew I needed to get away from this car before it caused an accident.

At my first opportunity I pulled into the other lane to pass this dangerous driver. As I drove by I glanced over and saw what was causing the problem. The driver had his laptop propped on the steering wheel and he was feverishly typing.

I pondered what could be so important that he had to type right at that moment. Was he typing an erotic email to his mistress? Was he writing his morning journal? Was he typing his job resignation? Was he putting the finishing touches on that screenplay he foolishly believes will become a hit movie? Was he writing his will? I could only imagine.

One thing I knew for certain was that this guy is an absolute idiot for putting his life and some innocent person’s life at risk.

He should have his license revoked.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Horse a Hoof and a Foot

A few times a year I have an urge to go horseback riding, and this past weekend I was ready and roaring to jump on the saddle and ride across the desert.

My fascination with riding horses seems to stem from my recurring Paul Revere fantasy of me galloping through the streets of Los Angeles warning everyone that “The Aliens are coming! The Aliens are coming!” But that, I’m certain, is something I should be discussing with my therapist, and not going into detail here.

So off I went with my friend Tom to the nearby stables, some twenty miles outside of Los Angeles.

I was given a horse named Smokey, which is the same name of a dog I once had and loved dearly. I took that as a good sign, not the omen it would turn out to be.

We were out trotting about five minutes when Smokey farted rather loudly, followed by bucking back and forth and up and down. I was completely unprepared for this gaseous eruption and as Smokey jumped up I fell down. That’s when Smokey’s left rear hoof landed on my foot. There was sudden pain as my right foot felt his crushing weight. Not wanting to be the wimpy-non-cowboy I got back in the saddle and finished the ride.

Maybe Smokey ate some bad grass that made his gas a painful blast?

When we got back to the stables my foot was throbbing and swollen. My toes felt like they were broken and I hobbled home. I spent the rest of the day icing my toes and keeping them elevated. Broken? Yeah.

This is a not-so-good picture of me just before that fateful fart:
Will I ever ride again? Oh yeah… yippie kai ay.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Falling Slowly

This past week I had the opportunity to finally see the “little independent” movie everybody raved about in 2007. I was a bit skeptical thinking all the hype was creating something in my anticipation that was setting me up to be disappointed. And then I put the DVD into the player and pressed play… The movie was “Once” and I found it to be an absolute delight.

For those who haven’t seen it, it’s the story of a street musician in Dublin, Ireland (Glen Hansard) who meets an immigrant Czech street hawker (Marketa Irglova). They develop a friendship through their mutual passion for music, and write songs together. Now I know you must be thinking they fall in love, have a hit record, and live happily every after, but that’s not what happens here (this is not a Hollywood film), and that’s what makes this movie special.

At first “Once” seemed like it was going to be a full-length music video (the film is a mere 85 minutes), but the charming Hansard and Irglova quickly dispelled that notion with their charm, humor, emotion, and unconventional love story. The centerpiece of the film is the soundtrack. It is beautifully written and performed by Hansard and Irglova, and “Falling Slowly” earned them a well-deserved Oscar for Best Song. Their performance at this year’s Oscar telecast was a highlight of the show.

I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can't react
And games that never amount
To more than they're meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You've made it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can't go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I'm painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won


It’s great to see a small independent film like “Once” garner worldwide attention and acclaim. I look forward to whatever Hansard and Irglova do next.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

iTuned In and Tuned Out

I love my iPod. I do. I really do.

Whenever I workout at the gym I have my iPod strapped to my waist with my favorite iTunes blasting in my ears. I consider gym-time my personal time to zone out and forget about everything around me. However, when I see someone I know I remove the earphones to enjoy face-to-face conversation and an intermission from pre-recorded music.When I’m hiking I never use my iPod, preferring the music of Mother Nature over the thump, thump, thump of the bass guitar. Hearing the wind whistling through the trees or birds chirping or the sounds of coyotes crawling through the bushes reminds me that I’m part of something much bigger than the world I tend to cocoon myself in.

It amazes me when I see two people hiking together and both have iPods on. Is this the new definition of quality time together?

Yesterday morning I was traveling Santa Monica Boulevard on my way to work when I pulled alongside a school bus. I glanced over and noticed many of the students were wearing earphones, lost in their own iTunes world. I also noticed that no one seemed to be talking. They looked sad, forlorn, and anti-social. It bothered me. I remember a time – and it wasn’t that long ago - when I’d be riding a school bus and the cacophony of voices was exciting, contagious, a reminder that even though we were teenagers we were still kids at heart.

If laughter is the best medicine (and I believe it is) then these kids were in desperate need of an overdose.

Sometimes I fear people are so immersed in their own small technological worlds that they’re missing out on one the most exciting experiences of life: social intercourse.

We need to interact with each other more.